R.I.P. Chief :(

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I was shocked this morning to learn of the death of Tom Clancy. Especially so soon after the loss of Vince Flynn, another giant of the political thriller genre. I can’t overstate the influence that both of these men are to me and to many of my friends who also write in the genre. Personally, I feel connected to both as we share very similar backgrounds. Tom was an insurance agent before giving it up to write his thrillers. Vince worked as a salesman for Kraft foods for a number of years before finally deciding to pursue his dream of writing a novel. Me, I’m an auto glass installer and small business owner with the same dream.

How does this connect us? For starters, we all have business backgrounds and none of us had notable careers in the military or any government agencies, simply a love for politics, history and the other elements that combine to make a globe-trotting adventure. When I first decided to write a political thriller with the goal of publishing it for readers, patriot gamesI was sure that it would be quite impossible without a background in intelligence or military tradecraft. I wasn’t familiar with either Tom’s or Vince’s backgrounds, but I felt sure that it had to have been in those arenas. I was shocked and inspired to learn that wasn’t the case and that in fact both men were very similar to me. Tom and Vince have produced books that are considered to be the most realistic political thrillers on the market and have left a permanent mark on the genre. I’ve been told that my own contribution to the genre stacks up as well and I couldn’t be happier about that.

While I haven’t reached their level yet, I’m hopeful for the future and I have two great examples to follow. Losing both in one year is sad and shocking. Tonight, I’ll be raising a glass to friends I’ve never met, but friends none the less.

This is a photo of my favorite writing spot. From the image, you can see why I chose it and why I like it. Both the works of the late Vince Flynn and now the late Tom Clancy are visible…instant inspiration.

writing place photo

~ Ian

A welcoming, family-friendly event…NOT!

flag waving

This past Friday marked the celebration of what is referred to as THE TWELFTH, ORANGEMEN’S DAY, ORANGE DAY or even THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH. Whatever you choose to call it, it is a yearly celebration by Protestants in Northern Ireland commemorating the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange (William II or III depending on which kingdom is referring to him) over the Catholic King James (James II or IIV) in 1690. The victory had disastrous implications for Catholics throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Among other things, Catholics were forbidden to hold public office, vote, or serve as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. parade

While many of the anti-Catholic decrees were repealed during the 230 year (1690 – 1922) union of the three kingdoms, the heavy colonization of Protestants in the six northernmost counties of Ireland (known as Ulster) led to a partition of the island in 1922 after the Irish War of Independence came to a political stalemate. Twenty-six counties became what is known today as the Republic of Ireland, and the six counties of Ulster remained a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Within the six counties of Ulster, which became known as Northern Ireland, many of the anti-Catholic sentiments continued throughout the first 2/3rds of the 20th century. These sentiments and their political repercussions were a major contributing factor (perhaps the sole factor) to the thirty-year ethnic conflict known as The Troubles , which saw Irish nationalist paramilitaries battling frequently with Loyalist unionist paramilitaries, who were aided at times by British authorities, and eventually led to a tit-for-tat campaign of bombings, assassinations and riots. During this period Protestants continued to celebrate THE TWELFTH with celebrations often leading to violence as they purposely paraded past Catholic areas and neighborhoods.

With The Troubles officially ending in 1998 at the signing of the Belfast “Good Friday” Agreement, attempts have been made to reshape the image of THE TWELFTH as a celebration that welcomes everyone, a celebration more akin to the FOURTH OF JULY or INDEPENDENCE DAY in America. However, this reshaping has not been particularly successful and bigoted displays have been frequent throughout recent parades. Below is a link to a video taken Friday of a Loyalist riot, complete with the burning of the Irish flag, that occurred after marchers learned they would not be allowed to parade past certain “sensitive” areas. Three days of riots have ensued and dozens of police officers have been injured .

The peace in Northern Ireland has been described many times as “uneasy” and celebrations like this do nothing to make it any easier. As the riots that resulted from the banning of certain parade routes show, there are many in the Protestant community that see the celebration as a chance to enflame tensions in Northern Ireland. Economics (Catholic unemployment and workplace discrimination) were also a key factor in The Troubles and right now times are hard all over the world, the last thing we need is for people to be stoking centuries old conflicts.

VIDEO LINK – http://tinyurl.com/nn5yu6o

loyalist riot

The Troubles in Northern Ireland is a cornerstone for the Black Shuck thriller series with many regular characters having lived through the conflict and baring the scars of it. Want to receive more posts like this? Sign up for the Black Shuck Newsletter or follow this blog on WordPress.

Here’s more on this year’s Twelfth celebrations from the Belfast Telegraph and the BBC.

~ Ian

US aid to Egypt in danger of being suspended due to Military coup?

 While, as a conservative-libertarian, I amislamist mob no fan of Foreign Aid, I believe in this case that suspending it would be a grave error. Denying the Egyptian military as much as 20% of their annual budget may well be the difference between seeing the country fall to Islamist rule and seeing Egypt continue as an integral, democratic partner in the Middle East. We CANNOT afford to cede another country to Islamist rule.

While this might seem to be a political flip-flop on the part of myself (and many other conservatives), I believe it actually shows the importance of governing on a situation-by-situation basis. Adhering to uncle samblanket ideologies has no place in the real world, whether you’re running a business or a country.

Where most real world conservatives have a problem with foreign aid is in its year-after-year dole out. Personally I hate the idea of sending billions to countries all over the planet regardless of whether or not there is anything going on there that is important to either the US Economy or National Security. But I have a lot less of a problem with sending money temporarily to a country that is clearly dealing with a threat that DOES effect our national security. Strategic alliances have a long tradition in the world. France, Spain and the Netherlands all supported us during the American Revolution and America may never have been without those alliances.

Islamists have the potential to start World War III, and if we continue to placate them and even help to put them in power, we are going to be dealing with an unparalleled global crisis and we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Here’s more on this from THE DAILY CALLER.

~ Ian

Egypt better under democratically elected Morsi, says Paul? Heck no, says I!

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“A military coup in Egypt yesterday resulted in the removal and imprisonment of the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a closure of media ron_pauloutlets sympathetic to him, the house arrest of his advisors, and the suspension of the constitution. The military that overthrew Morsi is the main recipient of the $1.3 billion yearly US aid package to Egypt. You could say that the US ‘owns’ the Egyptian military that just overthrew its democratically-elected leader. ” – Ron Paul

This is one reason that I diverge from Ron Paul (and his son, Rand) and have a hard time supporting him. I love his fiscal policies and his attitude on government transparency, but his foreign policy throws me for a loop. The Egyptian people (and the military) just ousted a dangerous Islamist ideologue who was quickly consolidating power and threatening the destruction of Egyptian society. Under his rule, Christians, who have existed peacefully in Egypt for generations, were being murdered in the streets in horrific ways, political opponents and critical journalists were being charged with crimes and jailed, and repressive laws like those of other Islamist states were being introduced, Morsibut all Mr. Paul can do is criticize the fact that a democratically elected president was overthrown. So what if that elected leader’s policies were looking more and more like that of the dictatorship he was elected to replace, so what if his allies were a cult of death-obsessed radicals and the sworn enemies of humanity, he was democratically elected. That’s all that matters. Under Ron Paul’s leadership the forces of Radical Islam would be left unchecked and the world would be facing an extremely grave situation (WWIII?) within a generation.

That is all. For now. Happy Independence Day.

~ Ian

RADICAL ISLAM DOES IT AGAIN…

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RADICAL ISLAM DOES IT AGAIN. As predicted by many, myself included, it has taken only a short amount of time for the true face of those calling themselves “revolutionaries” in Syria to be revealed. Last week, after attacking a Catholic convent near the Turkish border, Syrian “rebels” took captive two men from inside and beheaded them in front of a crowd of onlookers who were cheering and holding up cell phones to capture images and videos of the grisly scene. priest-beheadedThere is a nine minute video of both deaths circulating around the internet. I have seen it, and I DO NOT recommend watching it. Just as an article I wrote a few months ago states, Islamic Jihadists from diverse places often crop up in support of fellow radicals fighting in other lands. To me, the main attacker in the video does not appear to be a native Syrian and given this happened near the Turkish border, it’s quite possible he was a Chechen, although I don’t know that for sure. Anyone doubting the idea that Radical Islam is an enemy to anyone and everyone that is not EXACTLY like them, should heed the example made of Father Francois Murad, God rest his soul. You just might be next.

Syria-Catholic-Priest-Francois-Murad

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***WARNING***  ***WARNING***

This is the link to the video showing the execution of the two Syrian Christians. IT IS EXTEMELY GRAPHIC and I DO NOT recommend watching it, but because some of you will ask, I am posting the link.

LIVE LEAK – Two Christians, one a priest, beheaded by Syrian Islamists.

***WARNING***   ***WARNING***

Savage Sons – A Look At Chechen Terrorism

Caucasus Region MapRecently, two new words entered the common vocabulary of the western world when the identities of the Boston Marathon Bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were revealed. Those words are CHECHNYA and CHECHEN. The first refers to a land-locked country in Eastern Europe that is smaller than Riverside County, California and remains under the political control of Russia. The later refers to the indigenous people who live there, though the people refer to themselves as the Nokhchi. To those of us with an ear to the ground for subjects closely related to the military and intelligence trades, neither term is new. For many of us, the Chechens have been on our radar since reports came out of the two major wars fought in that country since the fall of the Soviet Union featuring some of the most heinous and savage attacks that could be imagined.

Chechen guerrilla fighters, who had rebelled against Russia at least five times in the last century, invaded and took hostage an entire hospital in 1995, bombed five apartment buildings in 1999, invaded and took hostage a theater in 2002, and invaded and took hostage a school full of children in 2004. These attacks, which are only a small sampling of those committed by the Chechens, were responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths and over 2,000 injuries, almost all of which were civilian. What was even more shocking than the actual attacks was the sheer savagery with which the Chechens conducted themselves. Reports of mass rape, slow and painful exsanguination, and decapitation were common.

Chechen_PrayingThe first important point to note about the Chechens is that they are Muslims whose adherence to Islam traces back over a millennium, and they have fought vehemently against foreign forces that attempt to invade their homeland. However, unlike other Muslims, Chechens have maintained key components of their pre-Islamic identity. Prior to their conversion, Chechens lived in tribes known as tieps, and still do in some mountainous regions of their country. Within these tieps, children are taught to fight from an early age, ancient ideas of honor and warriorship remain, and bigoted intolerance of their lowland counterparts, who have become intermixed with Russians, Georgians and other nationalities, is commonplace.

Chechnya PalaceOver the past two decades, Chechen Islamists have been unsuccessful in beating back the advancement of Russian forces in their homeland, but they have become hugely dependent on Islamic sources of weapons and money while trying to do so. Much like the discovery of some ancient weapon, the leaders of the worldwide jihadist movement have co-opted not only the Chechen struggle for independence, but also Chechen tactics for doing so. Chechen fighters have been dispatched to conflicts around the world in order to spread their inherited savagery and intricate knowledge of IEDs and Soviet-era weapons to militant ranks in other countries and, much as they have done in the Balkans and Kashmir, the historic avenues into Western Europe and India respectively, the jihadists have made the North Caucasus—the region in which Chechnya is located and the historic avenue into Eastern Europe and Russia—an important theater in their desire for a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

With the American attitude toward Russia being one of constant suspicion since the days of the Cold War, programs have been opened to accept refugees and asylum seekers from the North Caucasus region. While the vast majority of those who have come are likely innocent people fleeing the constant fighting in their homeland, it’s not hard to see how a Chechen, influenced by the ideas of radical Islam, could use such programs as an easy way into the United States and other western nations in order to commit acts of terror sanctioned by jihadist leaders.

While the Tsarnaev brothers’ connection to Chechnya may turn out to be nothing more than common ancestry, the older brother’s six-month trip to the North Caucasus cannot be overlooked. Terrorist training camps and strongholds exist throughout that region and someone, somewhere had to teach him to build the volatile and sophisticated explosive devices used in the Boston Marathon attacks.

VOC CoverAs if by some bizarre twist of fate, my first full length novel, Veil of Civility, was published on April 2, 2013 and deals with an organized attack on America by Chechen Islamists. I mention this not only as an obligatory plug for the book, but also to underscore the feelings I felt on Friday morning upon learning the identities of the Boston Marathon Bombers. As someone who has heavily researched both the region and the people of Chechnya, my blood froze. I was frightened at the very real possibilities of what could be coming next if these men were part of a larger group. With the whole of the Northeastern US’s law enforcement chasing after these men would they (and any unidentified allies) barricade themselves inside a hospital or school as they have in their homeland? Would the people in those buildings suffer the horrifying fates of previous hostages? An ancient Chechen proverb seems to indicate so: When will blood cease to flow in the mountains? When sugar canes grow in the snows.